SIU of Canada President Defends Cabotage and Canadian Seafaring at Transport Committee Hearing

September 13, 2017

“The SIU’s priority is to ensure Canadian workers have opportunities for employment in the Canadian maritime industry.”

– SIU of Canada President, James Given to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport


Ottawa, ON – On September 13, 2017, James Given, President of the Seafarer’s International Union of Canada, appeared before a parliamentary committee hearing on Bill C-49, The Transportation Modernization Act. At committee, he defended cabotage and underscored the importance of work performed by Canadian seafarers.


Under Canada’s current maritime laws, Canadian flagged ships and Canadian seafarers can move cargo in domestic waters, or a special permit is obtained from the federal Canadian government. Under the Liberal Government’s Bill C-49, the proposed amendments would allow the movement of empty containers by any foreign or domestic vessel – in direct contravention of Canadian cabotage. Canadian sailors are amongst the most qualified and best trained, with some of the best safety records in the world.


President Given told committee members that Canadian seafarers and Canadian vessel operators should have the first opportunity in any domestic maritime operation before access is given to foreign operators.


“As a labour union that represents Canadian seafarers working in the Canadian seafaring industry, the SIU cannot support these amendments because they actively undermine legislation in place to support the domestic Canadian maritime industry and Canadian ship owners.”

– SIU of Canada President, James Given to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport September 13, 2017


President Given told the committee that the primary mandate for the SIU of Canada is to secure employment opportunities for Canadian seafarers. He went on to emphasize that the organization also has a responsibility to ensure all seafarers, both domestic and foreign, are properly treated. He explained that under Bill C-49, underpaid and poorly treated seafarers would be engaging in local maritime operations – undermining the cost and value of Canadian seafaring.


The SIU Canada believes Canada’s international trade ambitions can be achieved while still supporting a national shipping policy – a policy that prioritizes “a strong Canadian domestic fleet crewed and operated by Canadians.